People envy them and follow in their footsteps. But, what seems wrong with our educational achievement? Have we forgotten something?
Harry L. Lewis, a former dean of Harvard College, in his book, Excellence Without a Soul, argues that today’s colleges and universities have changed.
Academic standards have slipped and plagiarism is growing day by day. We may say that the curriculum is richer than ever, but it has lost its meaning.
Educational institutions are just new skin colours without moral instruction. As in other nations, higher education in our country begins at age 19 or 20.
Programmes range from diploma, certificate, master’s degree and doctorate to professional development. In addition, many private institutions of higher learning are available, funded by government agencies, foreign universities and individuals.
They focus on science and technology or technical and vocational programmes. Apart from moral problems, we are facing a great number of issues in our higher education practices. In terms of academia, we have a limited number of experts.
In addition, innovative or contemporary approaches to research, teaching and learning are also lacking. As a result, we lack high impact research and suffer unemployment among graduates.
But, do we need to focus only on academic matters? The fundamental job of educational institutions is not only to ensure students excel academically, but also to help them grow into better human beings.
Both objectives should go hand in hand. Educational goals are not just lip service. We often talk about the pursuit of knowledge, the world’s problems, leadership, hard work and success but we rarely talk about personal strengths, cooperation, integrity, kindness and so forth.
The cost of education is expensive, especially in top universities but, sadly, at the end of the day, these universities fail to make the students better human beings.
Has education become a commodity? We need to restore idealism in students to realise their potential. Parents dream of their children attending top schools and universities.
They believe admission to these educational institutions will guarantee their children’s future. Thus, to become comparable to the best universities in the world, we should embrace internationalisation of higher education. It is a means to improve and empower higher education.
The government, through the Higher Education Ministry, should create more quality education programmes to meet the demand today. It can sponsor students and lecturers for further studies both locally and overseas.
Professional development training should be provided for academic staff and new curriculum to produce marketable graduates should be developed. More importantly, the merger of research and teaching methods in universities might lead to greater outcomes.
Who can ensure we will achieve success in changes in education? It is none other than teachers. As agents of change, teachers play a key role at both classroom and school levels.
Most students may remember only one or two great teachers/lecturers who have inspired them during the process of learning. They forget the lessons as soon as the class is over.
Sadly, students will easily forget average teachers who come to the classroom just for the sake of fulfilling their duties. Ultimately, education is not just about teaching names, dates, places, formulas and laws.
Education is about preparing students to be people who can contribute to society. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society”. Ahmad Faizuddin, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur The NST News Opinion You Write August 20, 2016